Humiliating Bullies? Shame on You!

What to do with bullies? A recent article in the Huff Post Parents, read the whole story on the Huffington Post, reports on a dad who publicly shamed his son as a punishment for bullying kids at school. He had him stand on a busy street corner with a sign that read: I am a bully. Honk if you hate bullies. I don’t agree with this approach.

The psychologist Laurence Kohlberg gave us the 6 stages of moral development years ago, which to me means why you would choose to do the right thing. The lowest motivator for doing the right thing was to avoid punishment, the highest was that you acted out of your own code of ethics, kind of like Atticus Finch in the book To Kill a Mockingbird. This dad is parenting his son to make future choices primarily motivated by avoiding getting in trouble; not a bad thing, just a low level of motivation that will probably require an adult to be present holding a punishment over his head.What this young boy will probably walk away with mostly is anger at his dad for publicly humiliating him, not the lesson about why you should treat everyone with respect.

Nothing was learned about why he was bullying kids at school. It’s only when you can uncover the cause of behaviors that you can successfully treat the problem. Bullying is always done in the context of the whole classroom or school, and my guess is that his classmates need some help in learning about taking responsibility for creating a safe learning environment. Everyone needs skills and practice in standing up for themselves and each other. They need to learn how to handle conflicts effectively and peacefully, and again be given lots of practice throughout the school year. That’s how you redirect and prevent bullying in schools.

This boy needs help, not humiliation.

3 thoughts on “Humiliating Bullies? Shame on You!”

  1. I agree! Obviously the boy is being bullied at home. While working as a police lieutenant in charge of the youth services section, I met several parents like this.

    They had their sons stand on the street corner with a similar humiliating sign that they were a thief. Each time the child returned within a year with an even greater crime committed.

  2. Completely agree. Nothing positive is ever accomplished by humiliating someone. Two wrongs don’t make a right, and it will not make that child do right. I feel very sorry for that boy and the children on whom he is taking out his obvious frustrations.

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